Hurricane Dorian Continues Path; Puerto Rico Spared

INTERNATIONAL REPORT—Hurricane Dorian continues its drive toward Florida, having delivered a glancing blow to Puerto Rico and setting its sights set on The Bahamas. 

As part of its continuing coverage, Hotel Business is tracking Dorian’s effect on the hospitality industry in the hurricane’s path. 

Puerto Rico Spared from Brunt of Storm

Peter Hopgood, VP of sales and marketing for International Hospitality Enterprises (IHE), told Hotel Business that its resorts fared well during the storm. “International Hospitality Enterprises’ collection of six hotels—The Condado Vanderbilt Hotel, Doubletree by Hilton San Juan, La Concha Resort, Hotel El Convento, Courtyard by Marriott Isla Verde Beach Resort and Condado Palm—in San Juan safely withstood Hurricane Dorian. In 2017, IHE made the decision to keep all hotels open during Hurricane Maria in order to provide shelter for hotel guests and staff. Similarly, the hotels stayed open during Hurricane Dorian, and the focus throughout was ensuring the well-being of staff and guests. The hotels all had emergency plans in place and communicated these to guests to ensure everyone was prepared and ready to act quickly, if needed. We’re happy to report that Puerto Rico experienced zero damages as a result of Hurricane Dorian.”

Heading Toward Bahamas

The Bahamas Ministry of Tourism & Aviation (BMOTA) issued a statement that a hurricane alert remains in effect for the Northwest Bahamas, including Nassau and New Providence, Eleuthera, Abaco, Grand Bahama, North Andros, Bimini and The Berry Islands.

Hotels, resorts and tourism businesses throughout the Northwest Bahamas have activated their hurricane response programs and are taking all necessary precautions to protect visitors and residents.

“The safety of our residents and visitors in The Bahamas remains the highest priority for us,” said Bahamas Ministry of Tourism & Aviation Director General Joy Jibrilu. “We are liaising with our partners throughout the destination to gather updates and ensure preparedness for Hurricane Dorian, including the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), Bahamas Hotel and Tourism Association (BHTA), Nassau Airport Development Company (NAD), the Port Authority and other relevant authorities.”

Hilton Issues Statement

Hilton continues to monitor the progress of Hurricane Dorian. “The safety and security of our guests and team members is always our top priority. All properties in the storm’s path have implemented their hurricane preparedness plans and emergency procedures. We remain in close contact with local authorities and our tourism partners.”

Advice in Advance of the Storm

Alan Rubin, a principal in Blank Rome’s Government Relations group, has been involved in hurricane recovery efforts since Hurricane Andrew, a destructive Category 5 hurricane struck the Bahamas, Florida and Louisiana in 1992. His experience led to a special focus in resiliency and natural disasters, which includes disaster planning, storm financing, and developing new types of insurance recovery methods.

“Hotels and hospitality businesses should be prepared to provide access to their spaces and/or services that are not affected by the storm,” said Rubin. “Hoteliers should also be able to reference a booking and/or reservation center to redirect people as to where to go in the event of a storm, and have individuals prepared to work with or handle rebooking requests or fees. Finally, they should have a link between hotels that provides information about ongoing storms.”

Rubin offers the following recommendations to consider during hurricane season:

Hoteliers and hospitality businesses should:

  • Share facilities and be sure that they have a “sister hotel” that they can use if/when their facility gets impaired;
  • Create a command center separate from their reservation area that they can use to communicate with emergency managers, local officials, government agencies (FEMA), as well as families of people who are staying at their hotel;
  • Have backup generators that allow, at minimum, the main services to be continued;
  • Turn their public and/or common spaces into shelters; and
  • Have a facility available for pets.

In terms of preparing for a potential interruption in business, Rubin advises hoteliers to check their business interruption insurance policies.

“They should also have on-call service providers who are prepared to handle issues in connection with debris removal, air conditioning malfunctions, roof repairs, etc. They should provide a secure communication hub that wouldn’t go down in the event of a storm,” said Rubin. “Finally, hoteliers should speak to attorneys who specialize in insurance recovery and professionals who provide mitigation and hazard recovery counsel related to FEMA and other government agencies.”

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